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Americano vs Latte: What’s the Difference?

Americano and latte are both espresso drinks that have been around since the 1980s. Although that’s the case, these two have more notable differences than similarities.

10-Second Summary

An americano is composed of espresso and hot water. In comparison, a latte is made of espresso and steamed milk.

Because of that, an americano has a stronger and more bitter taste, compared to a latte that has a creamy and well-rounded flavor.

What is Latte?

what is latte

Caffe latte, or simply latte, literally translates to “milk coffee” in Italian, which makes a great name for this type of espresso drink since a latte is made of espresso and steamed milk.

The steamed milk, regardless of its type, helps dilute the espresso. Making a cup of latte taste creamier and richer in flavor than other espresso drinks. Plus, adding steamed milk to the espresso shot gives off a thicker and velvety mouthful.

Moreover, a latte can also be served hot or iced. Or even with syrups and sweeteners to cater to many tastes of espresso drinkers.

So, if you enjoy a cup of espresso minus its bitter taste or just starting to drink espresso beverages, a latte may be the best (starter) drink for you.

What is Americano?

americano

Caffe americano, or americano as most people are used to, is also a type of espresso drink.

Based on a popular belief, an americano was first created after World War II. While the American soldiers were in Italy, they tried drinking a cup of Italian espresso. But it was too bitter and strong for their taste. So, they poured hot water into their cups to dilute the drink.

And that’s how the americano we know today has been made.

Since it’s only made of espresso and water, an americano is the most full-bodied and strong espresso drink. Which is perfect for everyone who craves the intense flavor notes of espresso.

What’s more, it has a watery and thin consistency,

5 Main Differences Between Americano and Latte

Americano and latte are two classic espresso beverages you can find in every cafe.

But like other drinks, these two have notable differences that set them apart. What are those? And how can you identify which is which?

To learn more about americano vs. latte, check out their five main differences.

Americano vs. Latte

Americano

Latte

Ingredients

Espresso, hot water

Espresso, steamed milk

Preparation Process

Much easier

A lot more complicated

Taste & Texture

More robust and bitter

Creamier and thicker

Add-ons

Sugar, milk, or creamer

Whichever syrup or sweeteners

Calorie Count

Low-calorie

Higher calories

Ingredients

One main difference between americano and latte is their ingredients.

Americano

An americano is made of espresso and hot water. Depending on the barista or cafe, it’s served with one or two espresso shots. Regardless, a traditional americano follows a 1:2 or 1:3 espresso-to-water ratio.

Supposed a customer wants it iced, the barista will make small adjustments to that ratio as the iced cubes will also dilute the espresso, especially once melted.

Latte

On the other hand, a latte is made by pouring an espresso shot, hot steamed milk, and a thin layer of foam into the cup.

Like water, steamed milk also helps dilute the espresso. But since it has a thicker consistency, adding milk results in a thicker and creamier drink. And yes, it can also be served iced.

Preparation Process

Americano

An americano is much easier to create (even at home) than a latte. Why?

Because an americano only needs two ingredients: a shot of espresso and hot water. You just need an espresso machine and a kettle.

Once everything is ready, just pour them into a cup. To do that, pour the espresso first, followed by the hot water. Or, if you want it iced, pour the iced cubes first, then the espresso and water. Make sure to follow this order strictly; otherwise, it’d become a long black.

Latte

To make a latte, you’d need to prepare a shot of espresso. Plus, steam milk to the right temperature while following a specific technique.

And for that, you’d need to have a steaming wand. Doing this is necessary to make the drink creamier and create good latte art.

Once done, pour the espresso into the cup, followed by the steamed milk. Like the former, you’d have to follow this order strictly; otherwise, it’d become a latte macchiato.

Taste & Texture

Americano

Since an americano is only made of espresso and hot water, it has a more robust and bitter taste than other drinks, which is perfect for those who enjoy a classic espresso taste.

Plus, it’s watery and light in the mouth.

Latte

Unlike the former, a latte has a creamier and pleasant taste. Although it usually has the same shots of espresso as americano, a latte has a weaker espresso flavor.

Thanks to the steamed milk that helped add extra flavor to the drink and dilute the espresso. Also, because of it, a latte has a thicker and velvety mouthful.

Add-ons

Americano

A traditional americano only uses espresso and hot water. But today, you can request to add a small amount of sugar, milk, or creamer into your cup. Doing this helps tone down the bitterness of the drink.

However, you must know that adding extra ingredients turns it into a different drink.

For once, if you add a splash of milk or creamer into an americano, it’d become a white americano. But if you add an equal amount of water and milk into it, it’d become an american misto.

Latte

How about the latte?

Well, a latte is a more “flexible” drink than an americano.

Since it’s a starter drink, many cafes have found a way to make lattes suitable for everyone. Unlike the former, you can add whichever syrup or sweeteners into your drink. May it be a hazelnut, cinnamon, et cetera.

Calorie Count

Another notable difference between americano and latte is their calorie count.

Americano

An espresso shot has a very low-calorie count. And since an americano only uses hot water, a traditional 8 oz serving would only have around 15 calories. (Unless you add add-ons to it.)

That’s comparably lower than other espresso beverages. So, it’s understandable why many people include it in their low-calorie diet. Some gym-goers even drink it to prepare for their sessions.

Latte

On the other hand, a latte usually has over a hundred calories since it contains milk. And that would go even higher if you add sweeteners into your cup.

This isn’t surprising since lattes are popular for dairy lovers and people with sweet tooths.

FAQs About Americano vs. Latte

Is Americano stronger than a latte?

An americano is stronger than a latte if we’d based it on their taste. And that’s because steamed milk in a latte can dilute the espresso better than the water in an americano.

But caffeine level-wise, they’re the same. Unless one of them has more espresso shots. Let’s say a barista added two shots of espresso in a latte and one shot of espresso in an americano. In this case, the latte would be stronger than the americano.

In terms of iced americano vs iced latte, the same would apply. Let’s say that two have the same number of espresso shots. The americano would be stronger in taste but not caffeine level-wise.

Does an Americano have more caffeine than a latte?

An americano doesn’t have more caffeine than a latte. Unless it contains more espresso shots than the latter.

One espresso shot contains 63 mg of caffeine, regardless if it’ll be used to make an americano or latte. As long as the two have the same number of espresso shots, they’d have the same caffeine level.

Is an Americano with milk a latte?

An americano with milk isn’t a latte because a latte doesn’t contain water. Depending on the amount of milk you’d put, it’ll become either a white americano or americano misto.

If you’d only add a splash of milk, it’d become a white americano. But if you put milk equal to the amount of water in it, it’d become an americano misto.

Conclusion

Americano and latte are both great espresso drinks. But like any other beverage, it caters to different types of espresso drinkers.

If you want stronger flavors since it only uses water to dilute the espresso. Meaning, it has a full-bodied and intense flavor.

But if you want a creamier and less intense espresso drink, a latte is a good starter.

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I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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